Pieters leaving UARR for new challenges

By Jasminee Sahoye

Gary Pieters
Gary Pieters

After serving the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) as president for three years, Gary Pieters has not sought re-election but hopes to become an advocate for equity and social issues as well as economic justice in the Greater Toronto Area.

“I hope to explore future leadership opportunities on agencies, boards and commissions that are leveraging diverse members with my skill-sets, experience and expertise in the areas of race relations, equity, diversity, inclusion and their intersections,” Pieters told The Camera.

He said during his tenure, he has always been busy and productive as an agent of social change. He was instrumental in “renewing and revitalizing the UARR to make it relevant in addressing issues across the full diversity of Toronto by making a new generation of young people, newcomers and organizations aware of the UARR and our role in fostering harmonious relationships.”

He added that the UARR has collaborated and partnered with institutions such as Good Jobs for All Coalition; Labour organizations; Ryerson University Diversity Institute; Humber College; the 23 Division Somali Community Liaison Unit; Policing Literacy Initiative; Stop Police Carding Coalition; the Human Rights Legal Support Centre; the Ontario Human Rights Commission; the White Ribbon Campaign and many others.

Pieters was also integrally involved with the joint Director’s Resource Committee of the OIPRD / SIU and met with SIU Directors Ian Scott and later Tony Loparco; and OIPRD Director Gerry McNeill to look at ways to foster better civilian oversight leadership in policing.

He was involved in a press conference following the shooting death of Sammy Yatim, which looked at police response to persons in crisis and called for alternatives to the use of lethal force.

And under his leadership, a 28-month Gender-Based Violence Prevention Project was completed at Humber College with funds from the Status of Women Canada.

Pieters, who works in the education sector, said “three years later, interest in community policing is very high.

“I believe that during my term as president of UARR, I looked at policing through the lens of community accountability; effective civilian police oversight as a member of the OIPRD / SIU Director’s Resource Committee in ensuring accountability is in place; high impact, action oriented initiatives that promote better community policing and better police-community relations in neighbourhood improvement areas (priority neighbourhoods) such as the recent Somali-Canadian Policing Forum that brought Somali-American police officers from Minneapolis to Toronto to engage in discussions on community policing; monitoring the process and upcoming appointment of a new chief of police.”